Month in brief

Ghani’s vow to crush ISIS havens

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani pledged to ‘eliminate’ all safe havens of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as the country marked a subdued 100th Independence Day following the August 17bombing of a wedding in Kabul, claimed by the local ISIS affiliate.At least 63 people were killed and another 200 wounded in the attack. President Ghani said militants’ havens are across the border in Pakistan, whose intelligence service has long been accused of supporting the Taliban, a group which Ghani said had ‘created the platform for terrorists’ with its own attacks on public places over the years.

Japan voices eagerness vis-à-vis China visit

On the fringes of Japan and China’s three-way gathering with South Korea in Beijing, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono expressed his readiness to increase efforts to prepare for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s planned state visit to Japan next spring.Kono’stalks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yialso focused on regional issues including North Korea and other possible fields of cooperation.The meeting comes as ties between Japan and South Korea are increasingly strained due to disputes over wartime history and trade policy.

Trump call

US President Donald Trump has been in discussions with the leaders of India and Pakistan about prospects for improved trade ties with Washington, stressing the need to reduce tensions over Kashmir. In a Twitter post, Trump called the situation ‘tough’ but said he had enjoyed‘good conversations’ with Indian PM Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s premier Imran Khan.Hostile relations between Islamabad and Delhi were further strained over India’s recent decision to revoke the special status of its portion of the Kashmir region, which both countries claim. Pakistan retaliated by cutting transport and trade links and expelling India’s ambassador.

Iran’s warning to US

Iran has warned of ‘grave consequences’ if the United States attempts to seize an Iranian oil tanker that set sail from Gibraltar on August 19, carrying a  cargo of 2.1 million barrels of crude oil, after being impounded for six weeks. The Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1, headed into the Mediterranean Sea just hours after authorities in Gibraltar rejected a request from Washington to detain the ship. According to shipping data, it was bound for the Greek port of Kalamata.

Sushma Swaraj passes away

Sushma Swaraj, a Supreme Court lawyer, senior BJP leader and External Affairs Minister of India in the Modi government from 2014 to 2019, passed away in Delhi on August 6.Mrs Swaraj, who was only the second woman to hold the office of EAM after Indira Gandhi, worked tirelessly to help members of the Indian diaspora around the world, and was known for her dedication and commitment. The Hon President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, said that with her death, India has ‘lost a much loved leader who epitomised dignity, courage and integrity in public life’.

Rohingya to return home?

Nearly two years after a military crackdown sparked the exodus of over 3,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, Bangladesh will work with the United Nations refugee agency to determine if they will accept Myanmar’s offer to return home. More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine state for camps in Bangladesh after a military-led offensive in August 2017–  joining 200,000 already there – but almost none has volunteered to return, despite the countries signing a repatriation deal last year.

Bearing up

A moon bear poached as a cub from the wild in Vietnamand locked up alone in a cage for 17 years, so her bile could be extracted for use in traditional medicine, is today a much-loved member of the charity Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre.Now named Precious, she has received dental surgery for fractured and infected teeth, and is learning how to interact with other bears.Animals Asia is leading a monumental project which will see every bear rescued and every bile farm closed in Vietnam by 2022.

Thai police seek blast suspects

Thai authorities have issued arrest warrants for three more suspects linked to bomb attacks in Bangkok as the capital hosted a diplomatic meeting, raising to seven the number of suspects still sought by police.Six small bombs and six incendiary devices exploded on August  2 as the foreign ministers of Southeast Asian nations met in Bangkok, an event also attended by diplomats from China, the US and other world powers.Four people were wounded in the attacks, which police believe may have links to a long-running insurgency in Thailand’s Malay-Muslim dominated south.

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